MIRI: Sarawak is a model state where unity and religious harmony prevail, binding Sarawakians together, says Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.
It is thus the duty of every Sarawakian to ensure that no outside forces can break them up and act as a wall against their influences so their state can continue to be prosperous, he reminded.
“The close working relationship the state government has with its people is the key to build a better future for Sarawak, bringing prosperity where everybody is free to choose their religion, enabling us to mingle together in setting the steps towards continuous development.
“I, therefore, want the people in Sarawak to maintain this close relationship,” he said when officiating at the elevation and proclamation of Holy Trinity Church in Lambir to a parish and 2nd anniversary dinner of the parish at Mega Hotel here on Sunday.
Uggah, who is also Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development and minister in charge of Unit for Other Religions (Unifor), congratulated the organising committee for organising the event as well as its success in raising funds to elevate the church to a parish.
“I know the route to reach this elevation and proclamation has not been easy, as I was also involved in raising funds for the church. It is not easy to raise RM2 million but you have achieved it, congratulations!” he said.
He commended the church members for their cooperation and collaboration with the committee and state government leaders in their hope to see the church grow and elevated to a parish.
Uggah emphasised that the state government has always been very supportive in the development of churches in the state as the church has a very important role in the development of society, especially in forging unity among the people.
In particular, he informed that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, the leader of the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government, is always willing and prepared to listen.
“That is why he (Abang Johari) has always been supportive of Unifor not only in words but also in giving funds.
“That is a clear evidence of his full support to the churches in Sarawak,” he pointed out.
Uggah said Sarawakians are very lucky as Sarawak is the only state in Malaysia to have a unit for other religions as a government agency and department.
He also informed that Unifor has been given three acres of land at a prime area in Jalan Ong Tiang Swee in Kuching to be developed as its headquarters.
“We are also setting up Unifor charitable trust to support the socio-economic activities and welfare of religions other than Islam in the state,” he said, adding that to-date Unifor has assisted over 300 houses of worship throughout Sarawak.
“Now, the state government has approved the increase in the number of Unifor staff to better serve the non-Islamic bodies in Sarawak.
“That is a reflection of the state government’s policy of inclusiveness.” Uggah added that this year, Unifor has allocated a budget of RM30 million for infrastructure development, new buildings, renovation, repairs and other necessary assistance to non-Islamic religious bodies.
At the event, he approved RM400,000 for the Holy Trinity Church Lambir.
The Holy Trinity Parish Lambir also received another RM35,000 in grants – RM10,000 from Sibuti MP Lukanisman Awang Sauni, RM10,000 from Piasau assemblyman Datuk Sebastian Ting, RM10,000 from Lambir assemblyman Ripin Lamat and RM5,000 from Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau, who were present at the dinner.
The dinner was made merrier with several singing and dance performances by the faithful, cake cutting ceremony as well as the golden voice session by the guests which raised RM3,294.
Also present at the event were Deputy State Secretary Datu Jaul Samion, Unifor director Datu Dr Ngenang Janggu, Bishop of the Anglican Church in Sarawak and Brunei the Right Reverend Danald Jute, Priest-in-Charge of Holy Trinity Parish Lambir Reverend Jecksion Tay, Miri mayor Adam Yii and the event organising chairman Pemanca Wilson Siang Lim.